Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Marshall Islands

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This page provides an overview of copyright rules of the Marshall Islands relevant to uploading works into Wikimedia Commons. Note that any work originating in the Marshall Islands must be in the public domain, or available under a free license, in both the Marshall Islands and the United States before it can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. If there is any doubt about the copyright status of a work from the Marshall Islands, refer to the relevant laws for clarification.

Governing laws

The Marshall Islands were claimed by Spain in 1592. Spain sold them to Germany in 1885, and they became part of German New Guinea. The islands were occupied by Japan during World War I, and made part of Japan's South Pacific Mandate in 1920. The islands were occupied by the United States in 1944 and formally made part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. In 1979 they became fully independent in a Compact of Free Association with the United States.

The Marshall Islands is party to several treaties which contain minor clauses relating to intellectual property, although it appears that most of these relate to specific and minor issues not related to the types of works that Wikimedia Commons hosts. For example, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture states that "[recipients of seeds from foreign countries party to the treaty] shall not claim any intellectual property or other rights that limit the facilitated access to the plant genetic resources for food and agriculture".[1]

As of 2018 the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations, did not list any IP laws enacted by the legislature of the Marshall Islands other than the Unauthorized Copies of Recorded Materials Act, 1991.[1] The Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute holds a copy of this act.[2]

General rules

The Unauthorized Copies of Recorded Materials Act, 1991 prohibits the unauthorized sale, copying/transfer for sale/profit, or commercial use (eg. public performance for profit) of sound & audio-visual recordings only. The Act does not apply if:[1991 §204]

  • the person who owns the master [disc/film/record/etc] is not a citizen of [the Marshall Islands;
  • the master sound recording or audio-visual work "was not created, originated, produced or otherwise recorded in the [Marshall Islands]";
  • the copied work is "intended for or in connection with a radio or television broadcast transmission that is available to the public without charge, or for historic, cultural or archival preservation or related purposes"; or
  • the work is copied solely for personal use "with no intent to capitalize commercially on such reproduction."

The four exemptions listed will not apply if they contradict the text of any international treaty (whether it specifically focuses on intellectual property or not) which is ratified by the Marshall Islands.


  1. a b Marshall Islands Copyright and Related Rights (Neighboring Rights)[1], WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organization, 2018
  2. Unauthorized Copies of Recorded Materials Act, 1991.
Caution: The above description may be inaccurate, incomplete and/or out of date, so must be treated with caution. Before you upload a file to Wikimedia Commons you should ensure it may be used freely. See also: Commons:General disclaimer